Global Assessments


It was held in SJ Grange Ltd v C & E Commrs (1978) 1 BVC 210 that a notice of assessment need not relate to each accounting period separately so that (at p. 212):-


‘in all cases where it is impossible for the C & E Commrs to split the assessment up into three-monthly periods, they can assess the amount of tax for any period of time which they specify (be it six, 12, 15 or 21 months) and such assessment will be good.’


When considering the time-limit for making such a global assessment, it was held that the two years referred to in Value Added Tax Act 1994, s. 73(6)(a) runs from the end of the first three months included in the assessment.


For the purposes of the time-limit in VATA 1994, s. 73(6)(b) as it applies to such global assessments, it was held in International Language Centres Ltd v C & E Commrs (1983) 1 BVC 545, that Customs could only use the provision to make an assessment in time if the facts (which came to their knowledge within the period of one year) sufficient to justify the making of the assessment for the whole of the sum thereby assessed. In this connection, it was held in Spillane (1988) 3 BVC 1,417, that evidence of facts coming to Customs’ knowledge did not include constructive knowledge.


In C & E Commrs v Le Rififi Ltd [1993] BVC 226, VAT was assessed for 24 prescribed accounting periods by one document, which was a single global assessment. The first of the periods was outside the time-limit for assessing and this invalidated the whole assessment. The first period could not be severed, leaving the remainder in operation. Customs unsuccessfully argued that there was nothing to prevent them from withdrawing the first period assessed, so that all the remainder were valid. Customs contended that this case was unlike Don Pasquale (a firm) v C & E Commrs (1990) 5 BVC 76, as it was not a hardship application under VATA 1994, s. 84(3) and there were 24 assessments referable to 24 periods.


Leonard J said at p. 230D that Dillon LJ in Don Pasquale had said that it would be quite unreal to treat three pages of running assessment covering 25 periods as constituting 25 separate assessments, rather than one assessment in the total sum of the three pages. There was nothing on the facts to distinguish that case which was binding on the court. It must be concluded that there was only one assessment. Thus the VAT assessment was discharged.


Global assessments are less common these days, since the computerisation of the assessment issuing procedure and the introduction of default interest. Instead, a pro-rata calculation is used to allocate a global figure to the periods involved.


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